When the past jumps in front of you

Moving forward does not mean our past won’t jump in front of us again one day.  Moving forward does not mean running or hiding from the past, it means un-handcuffing ourselves from it, dealing with it, closing it out, and letting it go.

Will we ever forget it completely?  No.  Will we close it out once and for all?  Probably not.  I haven’t.  I have made tremendous progress, but this week, parts of my past have jumped in front of me and greeted me with a slap in the face.  Maybe more like a punch to the solar plexus.  Whatever it is, it winded me and I feel like I have been gasping for air all week.

My father, in his late 80’s and an alcoholic, needed my help this week dealing with a medical emergency.  Gladly not huge or life-threatening, but important enough that I took him to the hospital where he was admitted for a few days.

In true alcoholic Dad fashion, everything was as complicated as he could make it.  He had expectations and demands on how the hospital should be run and how treatment should be rendered.  We have a large number of doctors in our area from other parts of the world, which did not go over well with my bigoted father.  And of course, he refuses to wear his much-needed hearing aid because it doesn’t bother him that he can’t hear and insists that others simply speak louder, come closer, or communicate in writing.

My past jumped in front of me in my realizations of how painful and ominous a figure my Dad has been throughout my life.  And even now, in my 40s, I am still working through ‘Daddy issues’.  I still want to please him, I still want his approval, and I still want to overcompensate by being the perfect Dad and Step Dad to my kids.

I felt resentment and self-pity creeping their way into my thinking this week.  I found myself making comparisons of people I know whose fathers were nurturing and mentoring while mine was drunk, absent, unreliable, and a public embarrassment.

I am glad though, that although these negative thoughts and feelings came knocking, and even hung out on the front porch for a while, I didn’t invite them in and didn’t let them stay very long.  I asked them to leave then shut the door.  They kept knocking for a while, but as long as I was busy with responsibilities and gratitude, I was able to drown out their presence and they eventually went away.

I can’t deny or change who my family is or how I was raised.  All week, I redirected my thinking by saying things like, “Did I have to, or did I get to“.

By that I mean, when my self-pity would prompt me to say, “Why, when others had supportive, reliable, mentoring fathers, did I have to have an abusive alcoholic father”?

To which my healthier side replies…. “You didn’t have to, you got to.  You got to be one of the guys who could endure and overcome an upbringing like you had and now you can be an asset to others who are going through the same or worse”.

If life had been more positive, and I had a Fred McMurry from My Three sons type Dad, or a Ward Cleaver, or a Howard Cunningham type father, would I be who I am today?  Would I be able to help my own son overcome his insecurities and anxieties the way I have?  Would I be able to nurture my step son through his own feeling of rejection from his own Dad who has essentially abandoned him?

Would I be the resource and fatherly figure to the young guys at work who are starting their first job and feeling nervous and insecure while the more experienced guys haze them in their first month?

Would I be sensitive?  compassionate? empathetic?  Would I know the journey and inner struggles of those with a father-deficit…. at a time when fatherlessness is increasing all the more in our culture?

I don’t know all of the reasons why I was chosen for this particular journey.  I simply know that some days it hurts.  I also am keenly aware that self pit and resentment are sitting, waiting to pounce on my pain and throw a bucket of gas on it.

I also know that God delivers on his promise to turn the bad around for good.  And I know the value of gratitude.  Even, no, especially, for the painful things.  God can turn our pains into strengths and our messes into our messages.

Ciao.

Chaz

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About Chaz

Husband, father, brother, son, friend. Sober member of AA. Grateful for the life God gave me and for the happy struggle of recovery.
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11 Responses to When the past jumps in front of you

  1. Caddo Veil says:

    Bless your heart, Nephew. Thank you for your help: “have to” vs “get to”–I appreciate that very much, more than I can say; however if you read my poem sometime Saturday, you’ll see we’re rather in sync. You’re wonderful–with no qualifications–God bless you so abundantly. love, Auntie Caddo (who is blessed to know you here)

  2. Debbie says:

    There is so much in this post, dear Chaz. I too have been thinking more and more about the fact that there is a reason for the harder things in my life. I have begun to see it more as training and preparation instead of wanting things to be easier or nicer or more of a blessing. I want to learn what He wants me to learn here, where I am, so I can serve and help those around me the way He desires me to .. has designed me to. God bless you and the message and ministry that is yours through Him!

    • Chaz says:

      Thanks Debbie…. and thanks for your comment. My hope is that through my experiences, I can share some things that help others. I guess this is what its about…. giving it away. I once heard someone say, “Make your mess your message”. I guess this is it. 🙂

  3. Tommy Simpson says:

    This post is a slap in the face for all fathers who had failing.

    • Chaz says:

      Not sure I understand this reply.

      I am simply exposing the lies of the unhealthy part of my internal dialogue. The voices that whisper to me that encourage me to blame and feel sorry for myself. These are not voices prompted by God. They are voices God wants me to overcome and be free of.

      My purose is not to criticize my father’s shortcomings, it is to unmask and criticize the remnant of unhealthy thinking in my mind. The part that is not yet redeemed or healed in full. I am exposing the lies and the liar that tells me to make meaningless comparisons. Comparisons that rob me of focus and energy.

      Unexpectedly, these voices jumpped in front of me this past week and they were significant. Does not mean they were true. They took my past and tried to re-hurt me with it at a time when my Dad needed me the most. A time when I was doing my best to serve him and act on the Commandment that tells me to honour my father and mother.

      Two things that plague our culture signifantly they are fatherlessness and the compulsion to feel sorry for ourselves over our fatherlessness. I was trying not to fall for the latter by exposing it in print.

      Slap in the face? Only thing I was slapping in the face was the liar in my head.

      Although I will say that the times I was failing as a father, I am glad there were strong, loving, and noble men in my life to slap me in the face to wake me up to what I was doing. So my kids and step kids would not experience that same as others have.

      Ciao.

      Chaz

  4. Tommy Simpson says:

    Sorry you did not catch the drift of my comment. You talked a lot about your father and how you are still dealing with issues which originated from him. Many fathers including myself had problems when dealing with their children brought on by their addictive behaviors. I was simply saying for us who did do these things, when you spoke of your relationship with your father, it hit a lot of us who did had failings. It makes us ask why did I do it and regret we did it. It makes us ask what complications in our children’s lives did we cause, and what from the past is still pulling on them. It opens our eyes as what part did we have in their problems today. We cannot go back and change what we did, but there might possibly be something we can do to help them today where we only caused a proble yesterday.

    • Chaz says:

      Gotcha Tommy.

      Agreed that we cannot go back. I have found the best amend I can make today is to be sober and functioning. This gives my kids something genuine to rely on and relate to.

      And always remember, and I am sure you know this, that God can redeem lost time. He can redeem the past. Not erase it from human memory, but turn it to something good.

      Turning the bad into something good is one of the most consistent things I have experienced in my relationship with God. The turn is seldom what I expect it to be and seldom when I expect it to be.

      God is so gracious.

      Thanks for clarifying.

      Chaz

  5. Tommy Simpson says:

    Ditto

  6. Heidi says:

    I do think it’s honoring to God and to your father that you are taking these opportunities to minister to him who was not there for you.

    We all fail. We fail our parents, our children and ultimately, we fail ourselves. At some point, if we dare to we decide to take up the pain of all of it and cast away the dysfunctional behavior patterns of our strongholds and break free from the cycle. As much as I’m able, I’m committed to doing this as well.

    Your ‘have to’ or ‘get to’ tip is valuable. I’m going to give it a try. Obviously it points us in the direction of gratitude and away from the ‘self pit’ and resulting resentments. I’m thinking about that now. Thank you.

    PS: Though it says ‘self pit’ maybe you meant self pity. I may borrow that pit concept sometime! Even if subconsciously written, it is powerful!

  7. Pingback: Step 1: Shadow Me « Good Life

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